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I flew home from London in early December and promised myself that I would spend the next month doing nothing but catching up on work and spending as close to nothing as possible (the whole laptop thing put me behind in both money and productivity). That all went out the window though when I saw a tweet from Major League Eating announcing that the first qualifier for next year's July Fourth hot dog eating contest would be held in Mississippi a week after I arrived back to Chicago. And, well, I really wanted to go....

English food gets a bad rap sometimes. Before arriving in the country, I'd heard that the cuisine was bland and uninspired and unoriginal. I figured that I'd just end up eating fish and chips at a pub and call it a night. Every night. (Not that I have any problem with that. I pretty much lived on fish and chips in Ireland because it's one of the greatest combinations ever invented.) But, in actuality, I ate some of the best food I've ever had in London. I was lucky enough to go on two food tours in the city. One was...

You could say that my time at World Travel Market (this big deal exhibition in London where tourism boards from every country set up big elaborate booths and travel bloggers go around trying to get free trips or "form relationships" or whatever) was a complete failure. While many of my travel blogging friends had meeting left and right and schmoozed their way into a calendar full of press trips, I walked around aimlessly, avoiding eye contact, and just wanting to curl up in a corner and cry. And then a panda bear kind of molested me. And then a guy who owns...

While in the UK, I hadn't planned on going up to Scotland. But I had a few days in between Liverpool and heading back to London and couldn't decide where else in England to go. My friend Brendon was in Edinburgh and said I should meet him there. And so, I did. In my three short days in Scotland, I fell in love and am dying to go back, explore more of the cities, explore more of the countryside, find the Loch Ness Monster, eat a deep fried Mars Bar. But, for now, three days in Edinburgh will have to...

I'd never visited England before, a fact that many people seemed to be shocked at. I guess it's just one of those places most people (Americans?) travel to earlier in life: it's easy to get around, everyone speaks English, the culture isn't too different from our own. But, considering I didn't even get a passport until I was 25, I just hadn't gotten around to it. The United Kingdom ended up being the thirty-first country I visited. And I'm happy that I left it until later in my travels. You see, when you travel, you meet a whole lot of English...